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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Wim Wenders' 50 Golden Rules
From the new issue of MovieMaker Magazine:
1. You have a choice of being "in the business" or of making movies. If you'd rather do business, don't hesitate. You'll get richer, but you won't have as much fun!
If you have nothing to say, don't feel obliged to pretend you do.
If you do have something to say, you'd better stick to it. (But then don't give too many interviews.)
Respect your actors. Their job is 10 times more dangerous than yours.
Don't look at the monitor. Watch the faces in front of your camera! Stand right next to it! You'll see infinitely more. You can still check your monitor after the take.
Your continuity girl is always right about screen directions, jumping the axis and that sort of stuff. Don't fight her. Bring her flowers.
Always remember: Continuity is overrated!
Coverage is overrated, too!
If you want to shoot day for night, make sure the sun is shining.
Before you say "cut," wait five more seconds.

Read On
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2/28/2006 Comments (2)
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Abandoned, Not Finished
For those who remember my trials and tribulations with my short film (see a few posts ago for details), I'm happy to report that the struggles are at an end. I'm sure many filmmakers feel the same way after completing a long an arduous project. No matter how you feel about the resulting product, you're just glad it's over.

The film, ultimately, didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. There are many things I would do differently, if I had the chance to do it again. It's been a great "learning experience" for me. (As I'm fond of saying, I've had so many "learning experiences" I'm practically Solomon...)

Great projects, as they say, aren't finished but rather abandoned. I've taken it as far as it can go.

'Til next time,

:: posted by Ian Dawe, 2/22/2006 Comments (0)
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

King Kong Battles The Planet of the Apes, March 28
USA Today reports that Universal will be releasing King Kong on DVD March 28 in both a single-disc edition and a two-disc special edition. The same day, Fox is releasing a massive 14-disc Planet of the Apes box set ($180 list price), which will include all five original Planet of the Apes movies, Tim Burton's 2001 remake, the animated TV series and, perhaps best of all, a collectible ape bust.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2/21/2006 Comments (0)
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Monday, February 20, 2006

Free "Room to Dream" DVD featuring David Lynch
Not sure how long this will last, but DigiDesign (a division of Avid) is currently giving away free copies of Room to Dream, a promotional DVD featuring David Lynch. DigiDesign describes the DVD as follows:
Take a journey through David Lynch's creative process.

Room to Dream: David Lynch and the Independent Filmmaker is a free DVD that features original interviews with acclaimed director David Lynch. See and hear how Lynch brings his unique vision to the screen with technologies that are now within easier reach for independent filmmakers. Interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage from a recent project, Lynch muses on the art of filmmaking, offers wisdom to aspiring filmmakers, and shows you the power of today's tools to give you Room to Dream.

The DVD then provides a closer look at how digital technologies can transform your approach to production. Using an Avid Xpress Studio HD system plus integrated Digidesign and Softimage products, Room to Dream presents on-screen demonstrations -- featuring clips from Lynch's project -- that walk you through pre- and post production, editing, color correction, visual effects, titling, final output, and more.

You'll need to register on the DigiDesign site to get a copy.

[Via DVD Talk]
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2/20/2006 Comments (2)
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A Trailer Darkly
Via Wiley Wiggins: a brand new trailer for Richard Linklater's Philip K. Dick adaptation A Scanner Darkly.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2/20/2006 Comments (0)
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

New Movie & DVD Reviews from Combustible
I thought I finally saw a good Hollywood film this year, Freedomland, but as of today, something like 8 out of every 10 reviews is negative (even Ebert's). I think it has such superior performances that it's worth checking out...

Unfortunately the overhyped Night Watch from Russia is not...

Otherwise, we have the excellent Hong Kong action film Breaking News, the terrible indie Illusion, with Kirk Douglas, and a pretty good new documentary opening in the San Francisco area, That Man: Peter Berlin.

As, as discussed before, Date Movie did not screen for the press. Let that be a warning to you...

In new DVDs, I was lucky enough to get a copy of The Virgin Spring: The Criterion Collection, which is just breathtaking. The Hong Kong horror flick Ab-Normal Beauty keeps its edge up until the end. Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Bueller... Bueller... Edition is worth seeing just because of the Ben Stein extra feature, and finally, The Thing About My Folks is worth seeing just to see why everyone hated it so much...
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 2/16/2006 Comments (0)
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New James Bond Cast
I just received a press release: Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced three new cast members on the next James Bond picture, Casino Royale. 1) Eva Green (The Dreamers, Kingdom of Heaven) will play sexy Bond girl Vesper Lynd. 2) Mads Mikkelsen (The Green Butchers, King Arthur) will play villain Le Chiffre. And, best of all, 3) Jeffrey Wright (Broken Flowers, Syriana) will play Felix Lighter. Martin Campbell (Goldeneye) is directing, and the film should be in production as we speak.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 2/16/2006 Comments (0)
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Revenge of the Goodie Baskets
Sharon Waxman of The New York Times reports on the preponderance of gift bags at the Oscars and other awards shows. What began as a modest thank-you to presenters is now a million-dollar cottage industry built around the slim chance that a celebrity might endorse the products involved. It's all fascinating in a queasy, car-wreck sorta way.

Related: the Times on the legality of collecting old Oscar awards. (Both stories require registration at the Times site.)

:: posted by Matt, 2/15/2006 Comments (0)
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

New Movie & DVD Reviews via Combustible
Despite all the bad movies coming out of the pike, there are still a few good ones. Johnny To's Breaking News finally receives a U.S. art house release, as does Lars von Trier's Manderlay, and Jonathan Demme's Neil Young: Heart of Gold opens in a few cities. Even Curious George turns out to be fairly entertaining. And I caught up late with Imagine Me & You for a Las Vegas Weekly review, and even that turned out to be fairly entertaining. The only semi-dud this week was Firewall, which Harrison Ford promoted to within an inch of his life.

Even I got to talk to him.

As far as new DVDs, I did a story for Black History Month that included the fascinating new titles: Afro Promo (a great movie trailer comp), Vincente Minnelli's Cabin in the Sky, Marc Connelly and William Keighley's The Green Pastures and King Vidor's Hallelujah. I also checked out the new Breakfast at Tiffany's: Anniversary Edition. Best of all is Zeitgeist's release of Jia Zhang-ke's The World, my choice for one of 2005's best films.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 2/14/2006 Comments (0)
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Ultraman on DVD
BCI Eclipse, the tiny studio behind the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe DVD box sets, has recently announced that it will begin releasing all 39 original episodes of Ultraman on DVD this July. The Japanese-produced, live-action series ran from July of 1966 to April of 1967, with many other follow-ups and knock-offs over the years. It tells the story of a series of superheroes sent to earth to battle giant monsters. I can't wait!
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 2/14/2006 Comments (0)
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More 'Not Screened for Press' Films
2006 keeps getting worse and worse. Week one started with a record three films not screened for the press (Hostel, Grandma's Boy and BloodRayne). That was quickly followed by Underworld: Evolution. Big Momma's House 2 pulled the sly trick of screening for the press, but on Thursday night at 7:30, well after any and all deadlines. Next up was When a Stranger Calls, and now we have the latest: Date Movie. And we're only seven weeks into the new year.

Now I'm glad I missed some of these, but others I actually wanted to see, and I certainly lost out on some income by not being able to pitch them to editors.

Studios are not required to screen movies for the critics, but when they do not, it's a sure sign that they have a turkey on their hands. If they open these films quietly with no press, teenagers often run out to see them, pushing them to number one on the box office list for one week, before they disappear forever.

What's disturbing is the new frequency of this practice. It's possible that a lousy economy and a politically volatile mood drove Hollywood into "safe" mode. But today people seem to feel a little more outspoken, and hopefully that bravery will rub off on future films -- which will mean fewer turkeys.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 2/14/2006 Comments (0)
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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Coppola's Punk Period Piece
Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Marie Antoinette Trailer.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2/09/2006 Comments (1)
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Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday, February 3 - Combustible Celluloid's New Reviews
Tommy Lee Jones's The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada was heavily screened at the end of 2005 for awards consideration, and though it made a few top ten lists, it did not secure a single Oscar nomination. It's very much worth checking out and pondering, though this week's very best release is the uncensored version of Baby Face (1933).

Otherwise, the Anthony Hopkins vehicle The World's Fastest Indian (another failed awards contender) isn't too bad, and neither is the documentary Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt. Moving downward in quality, we have the Oscar Wilde adaptation A Good Woman and the romantic comedy Something New (whose boring titles could probably be reversed without anyone batting an eye).

In new DVDs, Universal/Focus has provided a new Repo Man DVD to make up for all the out-of-print versions (it's one of my favorite movies; I've seen it over 30 times). Otherwise, we have two music videos, Buzzcocks: Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire 2003 and God Save the Queen: A Punk Anthology, as well as Philip Kaufman's debut film Goldstein and Peter Watkins' disturbing Punishment Park. Cameron Crowe's magnificently bloated turkey Elizabethtown makes its home debut (with extended scenes, of all things). Finally, I've added notes on the new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe box set.

Have a great weekend!
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 2/03/2006 Comments (0)
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Random Thoughts on the Oscar Nominations
It's a few days late, mostly because the movie world doesn't stop rolling for the Oscar nominations, but I've had some time to ruminte over the supposed list of the year's best in filmic achievement.

1) As expected, Brokeback Mountain topped the list, and will almost certainly win the big categories. All I have to say is this: if it truly were a groundbreaking work of art it would not be nominated at all. Rather, 30 years from now, Ang Lee would receive a lifetime achievement award. I was hoping that David Cronenberg -- a far better filmmaker -- would receive his first Oscar nomination this year, but instead I'll have to wait those 30 years to see him get his lifetime achievement award.

2) Speaking of Cronenberg, of the scant few nominations A History of Violence received, one of them was the most dubious: best screenplay. This screenplay was adapted from the graphic novel by a fellow named Josh Olson, who has in his filmography, among other items, movies called Infested, Hitman's Run and Instinct to Kill. Never heard of them? Neither had I. Neither has anyone else. So how does a screenplay of such high quality wind up on the resume of someone who has never written anything else nearly as good? Simply because Cronenberg re-wrote a good chunk of it himself, without credit. In the two times I've spoken to Cronenberg over the past few months, he's revealed to me some of the scenes he wrote, including the two sex scenes, and it sounds like he whipped the thing into shape. So, in truth, this nomination should be Cronenberg's. But in reality, Cronenberg still has no nominations to date and this guy Olson has one. The world is not fair.

3) Has anyone looked at the Best Editing category? I mean really looked at it? It's as if, as a joke, the Academy decided to nominate the worst editing jobs of the year. The Constant Gardener? I mean, come on! That's easily one of the sloppiest movies I've ever seen, this year or any year. What about Munich? Apparently the Academy was quite taken by the scene in which the hero sexually climaxes to images of the prisoners being killed. And Munich is actually the best of those five films.

4) Overall, this is the worst batch of nominees in years, though it's still not quite as bad as the year 2000. At least this year we've got Capote and Good Night, and Good Luck interspersed throughout the dreck. But let's talk about the one thing the Academy did right: it chose all three of the year's best animated films correctly. They ignored the awful Madagascar and Chicken Little and chose the hand-made, personalized Corpse Bride, Howl's Moving Castle and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. All three of those are winners, as far as I'm concerned.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 2/03/2006 Comments (2)
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Thursday, February 02, 2006

TV Viewing Tip: Grizzly Man
For anyone that hasn't yet seen it (or wants to see it again), Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man will be airing on the Discovery Channel in both the US and Canada tomorrow, February 3, at 8PM ET. Along with the film, the Discovery Channel will also be showing a 30 minute companion piece that they say "delves deeper into Treadwell's relationship with the bears and addresses controversies such as claims of fictitious interviews in Grizzly Man."
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 2/02/2006 Comments (0)
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